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EU move boosts PAL Express expansion plans

All PH carriers now allowed to mount flights to Europe
/ 11:23 PM June 28, 2015

PAL Express, the sister company of flag carrier Philippine Airlines, said the European Union’s decision allowing all domestic carriers to fly to Europe would help bolster its expansion plans.

PAL Express was among seven operators in the Philippines given the green light recently by the EU, which lifted the ban on flag carrier Philippine Airlines in 2013 and Cebu Pacific the following year.

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“The lifting of the EU ban on PAL Express will be beneficial to the expansion program of the airline. This is an affirmation of the airline’s adherence to international aviation safety standards,” PAL Express president Bonifacio Sam said, without elaborating.

Philippine Airlines is the only domestic carrier with operations in Europe as it mounts direct flights from Manila to London.

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The carrier recently said it was scaling up its long-haul business as it announced the lease of two additional Boeing 777 300ER planes, bringing its total B777 fleet to eight aircraft.

The announcement may be the first in a series of acquisitions of more long-haul jets, according to a report last week by aviation consultancy firm CAPA-Center for Aviation.

CAPA said PAL was also looking to acquire another four to six wide body planes, “likely” Airbus’ next generation A350s. The planes, it said, could be deployed to support the expansion of PAL’s operations in North America and Europe.

In a press conference last week at the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines headquarters, EU Charge d’ Affaires in the Philippines Lubomir Frebort said the lifting of the ban “is the first time that the entire aviation sector of one country is removed from the European Air Safety List.”

Last March 10, PAL Express attended a technical meeting with the European Commission in Brussels, providing an overview on the company’s Safety Management and Quality Management System.

On April 17, technical experts from the EU assessment team visited the country to look into key areas of PALex operations —Safety Management System, Quality Management System and Airworthiness Management.

Eight observations were raised and all were considered as enhancements of existing practices.

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The EU team was able to confirm that CAAP had the capability to implement and enforce the relevant safety standards including applicable international safety regulations and the Philippines Civil Aviation Regulations.

“EU also concluded that CAAP has the capability to detect any significant safety risk within an air carrier and act in an effective manner to contain such risk,” PAL Express said in a statement.

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